The Water Deal: Justified suburban suspicion or just all wet?

The Water Deal: Justified suburban suspicion or just all wet?

Among Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s talking points on the city’s Plan of Adjustment and Disclosure Statement, filed Feb. 21, are a few messages about the future of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department:

*A proposed regional authority would be called the Great Lakes Water and Sewer Authority;

*Discussions have taken place for decades about regionalizing the water system;

*City and suburban leaders met Tuesday, Feb. 18 and made progress in their talks, which are continuing.

Which leads to the reasonable conclusion that Orr can’t be too happy about an article in today’s Macomb Daily based on a two-week-old memo leaked to a reporter.  “Portions of the detailed, 11-page memo indicate that Oakland and Macomb leaders fear that they are being scammed,” Chad Selweski writes. (Incidentally, he doesn’t post the memo.)

The article trots out the predictable, nearly sensationalized suburban suspicions that seem to surround many things Detroit. In this case, they’re focused on the negotiations and proposals for what to do about DWSD. Have negotiations been perfect? Of course not. Environmental groups, for example, have called for more transparency and openness, and suburban leaders should be diligent about understanding a regional deal.

But Selweski quotes Macomb County Commissioner Jim Carabelli, a Shelby Township Republican, as saying “I’m a little appalled with the deal that’s on the table. It’s such a bad deal … (this) is some scary stuff.”

Scary? Yes, the bankruptcy is scary. The pensioners facing a 30 percent cut to their retirement payments would likely agree.

The memo, according to the Macomb Daily, reads, in part, “The DWSD … needs continuing, widespread reform – in financing, in operation and maintenance, in purchasing, in capital improvement, in technology, in personnel and labor optimization, and in service delivery.”

How about suburban leaders offer some constructive options for those goals instead of quips that rely on anti-Detroit sentiment?

-By WDET’s Sandra Svoboda

@WDETSandra and nextchapter@wdet.org